Sunday, December 31, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 01/01/2018

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!
Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and I decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them. 

Last Week's Book Adventures:
Hooray for the end of 2017! Unfortunately, I came down with a simple head cold so I didn't quite get as much reading done as I expected to but I am almost done with Braving the Wilderness and All's Faire In Middle School. 
Reviewed Last Week:
Click on any picture above to go read my review/post.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
I actually got some great momentum going last week on my novel revisions but that means I didn't get as much reading done as I had hoped...so my to-read this week is still: Braving the Wilderness, All's Faire in Middle School, One Last Word, and Long Way Down. I'm loving each of them! Happy 2018!!!


This Week's Reviews:
Check back throughout the week to read these reviews/posts. 

So, what are you reading this week? 
Link up below and don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are reading!
To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
we ask that you comment on at least three other blogs before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!

JOIN: Celebrating 2017 Successes!


Every Saturday, join me as I CELEBRATE This Week 
with Ruth Ayres from Discover. Play. Build.



I'm a huge fan of celebrating because it's a time of reflection for me. Last year, I joined Julie Hedlund's 12 Days of Christmas for Writers and it was a great opportunity to take time to reflect and plan so I decided to try it again this year. 

On the second day, she asked us to make a list of successes from the year and challenged us to share them, so here we go!

1. I discovered and fell in love with 826CHI. I went to an inspiring poetry workshop in the spring, volunteered for their middle school writing camp in the summer, and then was invited to be on a panel in the fall. (And I just signed up for a hand-lettering workshop this winter!) Being connected with 826CHI helped me grow as a writer but what I appreciated the most is that I feel truly seen when I'm there. I love them!

2. I participated in an online women's retreat with Wild Cozy Truth and then was invited to be part of Renee's Wild Cozy Truth podcast.

3. Speaking of podcasts, I was also invited to be part of Dream Gardens podcast where I got to talk about The Girl Who Drank the Moon

4. The Mr. Colby Sharp invited me to be part of his One Question video series where I talked about keeping up my writing habits during the school year.

5. I got a little bit brave when it comes to videos and made a video about my thoughts on how education can change the world. To make things even more exciting, I went Live on Facebook for the first time and started a Facebook Group called Story Exploratory LIVE. (Please ask you join if you aren't already part of the group!)

6. This summer was our 6th summer of Teachers Write and it was another awesome year. I was able to draft my 3rd novel super fast during the four weeks of Teachers Write this year. It's the first time I've ever drafted so fast!

7. For the first time, I mentored two people for Brenda Drake's Pitch Wars contest. I was so happy to be chosen as a mentee in 2014 so it was super cool to be able to now be a mentor. The two women I worked with were so great and I'm glad to have them as Pitch Wars family and friends now. 

8. I did lots of learning at conferences again this year. I presented at the ICE conference and at Nerdcamp Michigan this summer and also went to NCTE again. 

9. At school, I talked with teachers and students about teaching and learning and I helped to coordinate a district-wide professional development day, district-wide celebration of World Read Aloud Day, and celebration of Day on Writing where we were able to bring in Kwame Alexander at our middle school. 

10. And, finally, what I'm super proud of is that I made my writing a priority this year. I started off the year taking a course with my friend Marcie that was all about developing good writing habits. We realized it would be great to hold each other accountable to our writing goals so we text almost daily to check in and share our writing progress. Thanks to her, I've gotten a lot of writing done just knowing I need to check in with her. I've connected with so many other writer friends who cheerlead for me and read for me and help me keep going. This was also my first year working with Danielle as my agent and I'm so grateful for discussions with her, her belief in me, and to know that we were able to get some of my work out on sub already. I'm looking forward to working more on my writing and sharing my writing life here. 

This is me...it's New Year's Eve and when I took the kids to Target earlier, my car said it was only 12 degrees outside. We're headed to one of my son's friend's house to celebrate with their families tonight. I'm thankful for time at home to unwind and decompress, to reflect and plan forward, to get some writing in before we welcome in 2018. Thank you so much for being here to be part of my writing life and to celebrate with me. I'm glad you are here!

What are you celebrating this week?
I'd love to hear about any of your 2017 successes!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/25/2017

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!
Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and I decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them. 

Last Week's Book Adventures:
Ohmigosh! With Christmas, I totally forgot to get this post up in time! I read Shannon Hale's Real Friends and started reading Victoria Jamieson's All's Faire in Middle School. We're still listening to Fish in a Tree and I've read a little more of Braving the Wilderness.

Reviewed Last Week:
Click on any picture above to go read my review/post.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
Now that break is finally here (yay!) I'm planning to finish up Braving the Wilderness, All's Faire in Middle School, One Last Word, and Long Way Down. Hooray for time to read! It's really cold in my little corner of the world so we're snuggled up trying to stay warm. Happy reading wherever you are!

This Week's Reviews:
Check back throughout the week to read these reviews/posts. 

So, what are you reading this week? 
Link up below and don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are reading!
To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
we ask that you comment on at least three other blogs before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

For the Love of Mentor Texts - Jennifer Sniadecki

Welcome to another guest post in my series For The Love of Mentor Texts here at Teach Mentor Texts. I love to talk about the power of mentor texts to impact our writing but I'm thrilled to have friends share how they use mentor texts for a fresh perspective. Today I'm excited to share thoughts from Jennifer Sniadecki about how she uses mentor texts to share organization structures with students.

Would you like to write a guest post for For The Love of Mentor Texts? Just let me know by filling out this simple form

*********************************


Using Mentors Texts to Teach Organization Structures
by Jennifer Sniadecki

I use mentor texts for reading and writing every day in one way or another. As I pondered the purposes of mentor texts in my classroom and personal life, I came to the realization that I needed to categorize my reasons for use. This post attempts to chronicle my favorite mentor texts in terms of teaching (and using) organization and text structures.


ABC/Lists
There are so many ABC books on the market! One of my favorites for viewing and providing information on a topic is Gone Wild: An Endangered Alphabet by David McLimans (2006).




Sequencing
Preventing a writer from drafting “and then,...and then,...” is tough, especially when that writer is drafting a wonderful story with gusto! Let 'em go! When it comes time to revise, I suggest looking at the story again to insert some purposeful organization into the piece. Using Smoky Night by Eve Bunting (1994), I have guided students to show their story with a tight beginning, middle, and end. This book opens with a fabulous lead (another reason to use this story) and guides the reader through the scary experiences of a night when a fire engulfs an apartment building. From beginning to end, this book is a fantastic example of story structure in a time-order sequence.




How-To/Instructions
Students love to tell how to do something that they know well how to do! I've had many a conference where the student excitedly tells me directions: “First, and...and...and...then...then you're done!”
Getting these students to stop the “and” train is the reason I use books like Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin (2012) and How to Babysit a Grandma by Jean Reagan (2014). There are so many ways to tell others what you know already. These two books give writers some good ideas as mentor texts.




Compare/Contrast (Noting Similarities and Differences)
Again, this category provides a plethora of titles to use as mentors for readers and writers. Since compare/contrast consistently shows up in the teaching standards of each state, I consistently keep this book handy: John, Paul, George, and Ben by Lane Smith. Now Lane Smith writes hilarious texts (another reason to use this), but he also describes these four famous-for-history men (another reason – I use these books in many ways across the curriculum) in a way that readers can keep track of each distinct personality.



Letters/Notes/Diaries
Sometimes students are looking for another way to write, other than paragraphs or long passages. They want to learn something different from the norm, and they are happy for me to suggest something that they (sort of) know already – writing notes! (Well, notes, letters, diaries, etc.) The ol' reliable mentor text for letter writing is Doreen Cronin's Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type (2010). The animals and Farmer Brown fight it out. The animals want luxuries to keep them happy on the farm, and Farmer Brown wants eggs and milk. (I love the vocabulary word, “ultimatum,” introduced here, by the “neutral party” duck, too.) If you want to use something new-to-market, I suggest Dear Dragon by Josh Funk (2016). This is a beautiful story of two pen pals, on assignment from their teachers, who finally get to meet at the end of the book. (Sequence order backup – writing through a school year) Another reason I love Dear Dragon is that is a practical mentor text for Parallel Structure, which is more difficult for writers, and I used for older elementary/middle school students.




Parallel Structure
Parallel structures means that different characters in a book are carrying out similar patterns in their plots, all in one text. This is more difficult to teach, but using Dear Dragon helped me because the readers can clearly find the similar activities between the boy and the young dragon. (Plus, it's funny – another reason!) My other go-to text for parallel structure is Charlie Anderson by Barbara Abercrombie (1990). This oldie-but-goodie story of a cat living two separate lives is adorable for all ages.




Flashback
One of the curriculum standards for middle/high school literature surrounds the use of flashbacks in stories. Every year I break out Langston's Train Ride by Robert Burleigh to introduce this text structure. Langston had published his first book of poems and was headed to a party in Harlem to celebrate with his friends. As his shoes click along the sidewalk, he remembers a train ride, his aunt's apple dumplings, the rivers...Ah! No spoilers here! You'll have to read it yourself and add it to your mentor text collection.




I use these texts over and over for many reasons in the reading and writing classroom, and in my own writing life. In this post I have described how I use mentor texts for text organization purposes. Mentor texts are amazing! They are “best friends” (as Lester Laminack says) – and I hope you find your own ways to use these amazing titles in your own classrooms and lives.

Thanks to Jennifer Sniadecki for stopping by to share her love of mentor texts!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/17/2017

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!
Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and I decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them. 

Last Week's Book Adventures:
This week, I was still listening to Bad Feminist and we read more of Knucklehead. We also started Fish In a Tree and it's been good to listen and discuss with my kids.  I also started reading One Last Word by Nikki Grimes and I'm so amazed by how she wrote the poems with a connection to poets of the Harlem Renaissance. She combines her work with theirs...it's fascinating.

Reviewed Last Week:
Click on any picture above to go read my review/post.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
I'm hoping to finish Bad Feminist this week and get back to Braving the Wilderness. I'm hoping to read more of One Last Word and Fish in a Tree.

This Week's Reviews:
Check back throughout the week to read these reviews/posts. 

So, what are you reading this week? 
Link up below and don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are reading!
To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
we ask that you comment on at least three other blogs before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

For the Love of Mentor Texts - Teddy Kuhn



Welcome to another guest post in my series For The Love of Mentor Texts here at Teach Mentor Texts. I love to talk about the power of mentor texts to impact our writing but I'm thrilled to have friends share how they use mentor texts for a fresh perspective. Today I'm excited to welcome Teddy Kuhn to to share how she uses cartoons to inspire students to write.

Would you like to write a guest post for For The Love of Mentor Texts? Just let me know by filling out this simple form

*********************************

Elaborating with Cartoons as Mentor Texts

Students can give opinions all day long, usually very strong and sometimes logical opinions.  The point is opinions are natural for humans, we grow up being asked; what’s your favorite? What’s the best? Was that scary? Funny?  So why is it in argumentative essays student writing often feels flat and bland?  If you’re like me, you’ve read thousands of essays where students’ arguments are simple repetitions of an opinion.   And if you’re like me, you write on the paper, “Why?” and “What does this show?” and “Tell me more about this.”


Finally, you get to the end of the stack and instead of being relieved they’re all graded, you’re frustrated because no matter how many times deepening questions have been written, or written “TELL ME MORE”, students just don’t “TELL ME MORE”.  So it finally dawned on me (It took a while) that maybe students don’t know HOW to tell me more or what could be said.  It was time to start really thinking about what elaboration is and what it does because it is more than just more.  


In the early days I began with comic strips straight from the funny pages of the newspaper.  I gave kids a copy, let them read, listen to some giggles and asked “Is this funny?”


We practiced this a lot, with a lot of cartoons, it’s quick and students like it.  Best of all it did help with their writing.  However, with Common Core the standards for argumentative writing became more rigorous and more defined than they previously had.  I needed to step my strategy up, because even though it helped students see what elaboration looks like, it didn’t help them understand what it truly does.  


That’s when George Hillock, Jr’s book Teaching Argument Writing truly saved the day, week, unit, all of it.  This is really a remarkable book! It has become one of my staple professional development books.  Hillocks helped me really understand the components of argument writing and how they work together.  The book helped solidify what I knew, taught me the new language of CCSS and gave me the tools to actually teach it.  LOVE, LOVE this book, find a copy!


Anyways, Hillocks suggests using crime scene cartoons! (Is there anything more satisfying than finding out you were on the right track??) I use Lawrence Treat’s Crime and Puzzlement, each cartoon in this book comes with a brief story that includes more clues.  Share it with students and simply ask, “What happened? Was this an accident?” As students begin developing theories guide them to the picture and ask, “How can you tell?” This time when students are asked for more, I was really asking for a comparison. Students are really answering, “How does this compare to what you know about the world?”


Suddenly their answers will include ideas about how this evidence shows it couldn’t have been an accident because it would be impossible to occur naturally.  And, almost like magic, students are answering, “why?” and “telling me more” using logic, warrants and reasoning, even if they don’t know it yet!  I’ll later use these cartoons and conversations to define the key elements of argument writing.  Students are more likely to transfer this elaboration when they know exactly what that element is, does and sounds like.




Unfortunately, if you do teach younger students these cartoons aren’t appropriate.  I recommend the classic Goofus and Galant cartoons. Ask students which character is doing the right thing and which is doing the wrong.  Then, to encourage elaboration and reasoning, ask students, “How do you know that’s the right thing to do?” Students’ answers will include their experiences and values in comparison with the characters, so even at a young age the elaboration and reasoning muscles are being strengthened!


I recently discovered Zen Pencils and love how they are taking inspirational or thought-provoking quotes and turning them into cartoons. It really brings them to life and helps give readers another lens to consider as they discuss. If you aren't familiar with this site, I definitely recommend it as well.


A big thank you to Teddy for taking the time to share her love of mentor texts!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 12/11/2017

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!
Kellee Moye, of Unleashing Readers, and I decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them. 

Last Week's Book Adventures:
I'm still listening to Bad Feminist and it's so so so good. We've been reading Jon Scieszka's Knucklehead as a family and we crack up every night. It's so funny. 

Reviewed Last Week:
I was on a podcast!
Thanks to Renee Powers for interviewing me for her Wild Cozy Truth podcast.
I also blogged about the The Danger of a White Story over at Story Exploratory.
Click on any picture above to go read my review/post.

Upcoming Book Adventures: 
This week I'll be listening to Bad Feminist and possibly diving into a reread of Dash and Lily's Book of Dares. It always puts me into the holiday spirit!

This Week's Reviews:
Check back throughout the week to read these reviews/posts. 

So, what are you reading this week? 
Link up below and don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are reading!
To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
we ask that you comment on at least three other blogs before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Monday post, don't forget to use #IMWAYR!

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 10/21/2019

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA!   It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme ho...